There were three great Submarines manoeuvres and one confrontation, which consumed a lot of time in the past. Atlantic German U- boats and the escorts, aircraft of the United Kingdom and the United States participated in the first and second battles. In the First World war, the Germans triumphed, but the Germans and their allies were on the verge of destruction and ruined in World War II. 

In the third duel, the commercial fleet of Japan was fully demolished by the US Navy, which affected the Japanese economy to the core. Besides dealing great damage to the Japanese Navy, the US Navy also destroyed many of Tokyo’s capital ships.

The duel between several NATO navies and the submarines of the USSR lasted for Forty years and paved the way to develop the tactics of submarine warfare. As a consequence, the World is now enriched with the advanced technology of submarines.

 The experiences of the Cold War created a lot of variation and changes to the submarine combats. It unlocked many aspects of strategic submarines battles.

The list of the top 5 devastating submarines depends on potential, utility, power, and other factors. Here we are discussing the submarines capable of strategic utilities rather than technical advantages.

U-31 submarine

U-31 Submarine

U-31 class contains eleven boats that were developed between 1912 and 1915. The boats were employed in the German u-boats before the freezing of unrestricted campaigns. They were used in 1917 when Germany was determined to crush the British Empire to the knees. Four of those eleven boats(U-35, U-39, U-38 and U-34) crowned themselves as the most devastating and effective killers of 

World War I. These four submarines were on the list of the top 5 submarines of all time. This ranking depended on the term of weight (Tonn) sunk. In this category, U-48 creates its palace at number 3. U-35 established itself as the most killer submarine and drowned almost 224 ships amounting to over a half million tons.

The Germans exposed their technology of submarines through the U-31 boats. It was better to say it as an evolution rather than tracing it as a revolution. But it failed to create a vast difference from its immediate predecessors or successors. These boats had high speed, good range, a deck machine gun to deal with the small ships. These advantages made the U-31 class a masterpiece for wrecking the enemies while tackling the upcoming threats faster from the surface units. It also provided a protected platform for shifting the units that compelled Great Britain from the battle. Only the collaboration of the United States and the Royal Navy caused trouble for the submarines and became offensive. Only three among the eleven boats survived the destruction of war, and eventually, the allies guided them.


balao class submarine

The previous wars had shown the potential of submarines against the Japanese Empire in the water. Southeast Asia provided the Japanese industry lot of natural resources for survival. If japan were to depart from those natural resources, it would help win the war. The pre-war USN submarines were small and supported poor tenet and bad torpedoes. The boats manufactured during the wartime period, including the Gato and Balao class, were quickly able to destroy the entire Japanese merchant ships. Balao class was a successful design that was completed with 120 boats and had advanced structures. This characteristic made it a threat to the entire Japanese Marine.

In the category of the pre-streamline submarine, the Balao class was near to claim itself at its peak. Battle in the Pacific claims different criteria than the snug Atlantic. The requirements for long-range and more habitability is fulfilled by the Gato and Balaos, though they were not so mobile as their predecessors. Even the German Type VII submarines were faster and more handleable than the Gato or Balaos. These classes provided the strength of the hull and advanced structure. The type VII submarines had less speed than the Balao class submarines. Indeed, the Balaos had great range, high speed, quality guns and plenty of torpedo tubes. But the fact is, the Balao was deployed in different war situations and environments against less experienced opponents in anti-submarine campaigns. The greatest achievements of Balao was achieved by Archerfish when the 58000 ton HIJMS Shinano drowned in the depth of the sea. 

A total of 11 boats of 120 were lost. Post-war accidents caused the loss of two ships. Later the Balao class submarines were distributed in the department of many other friendly navies, and they served for decades. One of them was transferred by the former USS Tusk to the partial commission in Taiwan and serviced with the name of Hai Pao. 

Type XXI

Type XXI
Type XXI Submarine.
Image Source: Wikipedia

In many aspects, it has similarities with the ME 262. The XXI type was a devastating weapon full of war-winning potentials. Despite having the ability of great destruction, it hardly had shown any destructive results because of its late arrival. It was the first “true’ submarine that supported better performance while submerged than on the surface. Type XXI became the first mass-producing submarine because of its unique qualities. Instead of having a deck gun, it had more speed and stealth and pioneered submarines’ design for generations.

 In their patrolling domain, the allied anti-submarine facilities strongly focus on the surface boats in the transit zones and the veteran killers, including warships and air crafts. In the time of 1944, they started the preparation of dealing “schnorkel” U-boats. But they still were unable to combat against the submarines capable of moving at 20 knots in submerged conditions. 

The Type XXI was capable of avoiding the observation period of an attack, thanks to the stealth. It was fast enough that allowed it to dodge an attack in most critical war situations. Though Germany had developed 118 of these category boats, four boats could not be deployed because of several complicated industrial issues. The allies grasped all the surviving events of Type XXI, utilising them as their design to develop anti-submarine technology and the techniques. It led them to great success. For example, Type XXI became an inspiration and core idea for the Soviet “Whiskey” class, the large portion of the Chinese Navy included in the same category.

George Washington class submarine

George Washington Class Submarine
Image: theleansubmariner.files

George Washington class submarines are the weapon of great destruction, well equipped with nuclear power and lots of missiles, which can bring hugely destructive impacts to a dozen cities and continents in a fraction of time. George Washington class submarines can provide the most effective deterrent trade, as it is hard for any enemy to believe the destruction of the submarine fleet before the launching of missiles.

In 1960, the first secure submarine deterrent was introduced to the entire World by the USS George Washington. George Washington class submarines were the modified version of Skipjack class nuclear submarines, containing sixteen Polaris ballistic missiles. This unique submarine class provided the facility of striking the targets properly within 1000 miles area with a 600 kt warhead. The boats are now advanced enough to carry the Polaris A3, use it within 2500 mile ranges with three warheads.

George Washington and her sisters held the position of being the only modern boomers till 1967. The Soviet counterparts of George Washington class submarines were capable of caring for three missiles at a time, and at the time of firing, it had to reveal it on the surface. This drawback made its deterrent value limited. Later, all the nuclear power developers seized the idea, planning George Washington class to develop the submarines. In this path, the list of successes started with the “Yankee” class SSBN (1967), introducing the first resolution boat in 1968.

And last but not least, the French Redoutables in 1971. The Chinese developers modified the modern SSBNs that have only been granted to serve recently. INS Arihant of the Indian Navy will join the service in the upcoming year.

Execution of deterrent patrols was perfectly performed by George Washington class until the retirement of SALT II occurred in 1982. Three among five submarines were still deployed as nuclear attack submarines for a few years.

Los Angeles class Submarine

Los angeles class submarine
Photo: Thomas C. Peterson

Los Angeles class is one of the most mass-produced nuclear submarines of all time in history. It contained a total number of sixty-two boats and made its debut in the service in 1976. Forty-one of those submarines are still in the commission today, serving to create the background of the USN’s submarine fleet.

The Los Angeles class submarines, or 688, are great examples of Cold War submarines. They were experts in executing the anti-surface or anti-submarine combat. In the war situation, they were especially used for their excellent penetration power to interact with the Soviet base areas, where the Russian boomers were highly secured by layers of submarines, surface ships and air supports. Los Angeles class submarines were also used to provide protection to the American carrier units.

In 1991, two Los Angles boats first executed the outburst of cruise missiles on the land targets, which added a new aspect to the destructive power of submarines in the campaigns. From the time of the Cold War, cruise missile-armed submarines were playing a significant role in the duel between the United States and the Soviet Union. But most of the attraction was attracted by the nuclear delivery or the anti-ship combats. The launching of this class of submarines empowered the United States to attack heavily at the doors of anti-access. This idea is so impactful that four Ohio class boomers were could not help modify cruise missile submarines, which caused the initial strikes on Liya made by USS Florida.

The last of This species served till 2020. The replacement was made by the developed submarine classes having more advanced features for critical war situations and the accuracy of damaging the land targets. However, the Los Angeles class submarines created a great impact and became the centre of attraction in the warfares with their own characteristics.


In the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States kept away from direct actions that limited the threats of advanced technology and its fetal destructions. Today, maritime power holder countries are always trying to acquire a master grip on the advanced submarines overpowered by nuclear concepts. The next submarine battle will present a different scenario from the previous one. It is hard to predict its destructive impact, but it will affect Nature the most if it happens in the future.